SFU Undergrad Researcher: William Shen

Introducing William Shen of the Departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry!

WILLIAM SHEN.jpg

Name: William Shen
Faculty: Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Year: Fourth
Supervisor: Dr. Hogan Yu

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far?
A: My research is focused on modifying surfaces to create superhydrophobic and cytotoxic materials with silanes and nanoparticles. My original project was meant to impart hydrophobic properties onto materials but I wanted to direct the applications towards the biology side of things so I implemented antimicrobial properties in addition. Having volunteered in health care for a few years, one of the main things that I noticed is that outbreaks are pretty common and when they do happen, quality of life takes a major nosedive. If I can develop a simple flexible process to modify materials that can limit bacteria derived nosocomial infections through contact transfers, then it would be beneficial to everyone. Another application that I have also spent a lot of time developing are durable superhydrophobic and antimicrobial textiles.

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: I could potentially be doing anything from creating thin films of polymers on surfaces, synthesizing nanoparticles, performing Kirby-Bauer and other susceptibility tests, or characterizing and interpreting data from instruments like contact angle goniometers and scanning electron microscopy. I don’t have much of a normal everyday routine in the lab in terms of the experiments I plan.

Q: What’s your favourite course that you have taken so far in your degree?
A: I have quite a few favourite courses but I would say CHEM 459 – Special Topics in Organic Chemistry is my favourite. The course was taught by David Vocadlo and the topic that he chose was chemical biology. When I started university, I chose MBB as my major because I loved biology and chemistry. I was disappointed that MBB never quite went into the chemistry of anything in any sort of detail…it was sort of just glossed over for the most part. Fast forward to the end of second year and I found out about the Chemistry and MBB joint program and decided to switch into it. It wasn’t until I took chemical biology that I felt like there was a course that satisfied what I wanted originally. It took everything great about chemistry, everything great about molecular biology and biochemistry, and blended it into a different field that I loved. I would definitely recommend the course with Dr. Vocadlo to anyone if you get the chance.

Q: If you were a scientific lab instrument, which one would you be?
A: A scanning electron microscope because it’s my favourite characterization technique by far for materials and who wouldn’t want to be part electron gun???

Q: Who is your biggest science crush?
A: Elon Musk because I always admire someone who has the guts to take on high-risk high reward scenarios where you could potentially lose everything. Plus, he called his tunnel boring company “The Boring Company.” A+

Q: What scares you the most in the lab or the field?
A: Breaking very expensive equipment.

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